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Thursday, April 03, 2014

OTP April 2014: BurstNET Sued for Not Making Equipment Lease Payments

Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: April 03, 2014 at 01:59 PM | 4718 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: 7 million aca signees and counting, i-95 south, nc, politics

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   1801. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 21, 2014 at 05:38 PM (#4690552)
Is it just me or did this thread get weird?


Its been weird for several pages.
   1802. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 21, 2014 at 05:40 PM (#4690553)
Concentrations of wealth also lead to political instability.
No; concentrations of power -- i.e., government -- lead to political instability.
The extraordinarily wealthy have no allegiance to a political system (or country even), and actually see themselves as peers and rivals to government. They will seek to game and undermine elections and public policy debate on issues and prospective laws.
If that were the case, we'd expect to see the rich trying to overthrow governments. But of course it's the opposite; the extraordinarily wealthy typically work within government to maintain and increase their privilege. They do not see themselves as rivals to the government, but as partners with it. (People like the Kochs, who actually want the government to leave them alone, are the exceptions.)

It's not good to have competing sovereigns in the same realm. How effective would a business be if it worked that way?
An individual business might not want to have competing sovereigns, but an overall economy is much more effective with competition.
   1803. zenbitz Posted: April 21, 2014 at 05:42 PM (#4690555)
Another problem with David's argument about police is that when it comes to property crimes, the rich benefit more from police than the poor do.

We've had this debate before. I disagree. Take a third world country with comparatively less law and order -- say, Mexico. The rich still live plenty comfortably; the poor are seriously screwed.


Correlation is not causation.

But I don't think there is enough information given to answer the question anyway. Police != law and order and they certainly don't have a monopoly on protecting private property in Mexico, the US, or anywhere else. They have a monopoly on legal punishment; assuming they are unbribeable robots.
   1804. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: April 21, 2014 at 05:46 PM (#4690558)
Concentrations of wealth also lead to political instability.

No; concentrations of power -- i.e., government -- lead to political instability.


I know it's pointless at this juncture, but again, this is your primary failing. Wealth is power.
   1805. zenbitz Posted: April 21, 2014 at 05:46 PM (#4690560)
Concentrations of wealth also lead to political instability.


No; concentrations of power -- i.e., government -- lead to political instability.


Why am I reminded here of Junior High debate club. "Resolved:..."

You guys haven't even defined political stability, let alone demonstrated it's some kind of goal. David at least gets one weasel point for sneaking In his conclusion-assuming definition of "concentration of power"
   1806. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 21, 2014 at 05:48 PM (#4690562)
You may not know this, because you only know what you know, but a lot of people outside of your social interaction zone are actually really, really close to subsistence level poverty, David. The rural poor are getting poorer, and world wide food shortages are coming.

No one in the US is even remotely close to subsistence level.

Fear-mongering about food shortages is just ridiculous posing. There are literally millions of acres of farmland in the eastern US that used to feed the whole country that are now fallow.
   1807. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 21, 2014 at 05:49 PM (#4690564)
You may not know this, because you only know what you know, but a lot of people outside of your social interaction zone are actually really, really close to subsistence level poverty, David.
You may not know this, because you're really dumb, but nobody in the U.S. are in the same zip code as subsistence level poverty. No, being unable to pay your student loans because you're a barista at Starbucks doesn't count. You don't seem to have any grasp of what true poverty is, if you think anyone in the U.S., within rounding error of zero, lives like a poor person in Haiti or some of the more dysfunctional parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

Not sure what imaginary "world wide food shortages" have to do with the U.S., which is what we're talking about.
   1808. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 21, 2014 at 05:51 PM (#4690566)
TR is definitely one of the worst presidents ever

This is a pretty weak indictment from a libertarian when there's no other end of the spectrum against which to be the worst. They are simply all the worst, are they not? SNORE
Not in the least. For instance, William Henry Harrison was a very good president.

EDIT: I see Eddo beat me to it.

But in any case, there were some decent presidents, though few since 1900. I guess Warren Harding might be #1 of that time period, but hard to be sure.
   1809. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 21, 2014 at 05:59 PM (#4690576)
How many corporate criminals have been deported? And how many corporate criminals get the sort of sentence that Oklahoma has given to some second time offenders for marijuana possession?
What corporate criminals are you talking about? Leftists just think that anyone with money must have committed a crime to get it, but they can't identify any actual crimes that specific "corporate criminals" actually committed. Making poor business decisions is not a crime.

ETA:
Billionaire Ty Warner steals 100M, gets probation
He didn't "steal" $100M; he earned $100M (more), but he hid $100M from the IRS. And as the article points out, he didn't just "get probation"; he had to pay the unpaid taxes plus an additional $50M in penalties.
   1810. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 21, 2014 at 06:11 PM (#4690583)
I know it's pointless at this juncture, but again, this is your primary failing. Wealth is power.
The problem is that leftists just don't grasp scale. The richest people in the country are paupers compared to government.
   1811. Steve Treder Posted: April 21, 2014 at 06:15 PM (#4690587)
The richest people in the country are paupers compared to government.

This is a feature, not a bug.
   1812. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: April 21, 2014 at 06:21 PM (#4690588)
You don't seem to have any grasp of what true poverty is


One of us was gilded into the Ivies out of his posh NEC parents' gig. The other of us grew up in actual poverty.
   1813. spike Posted: April 21, 2014 at 06:31 PM (#4690595)
No one in the US is even remotely close to subsistence level.


Yeesh
   1814. formerly dp Posted: April 21, 2014 at 06:35 PM (#4690597)
The other of us grew up in actual poverty.
It's cute that you think you're capable of judging what real poverty is. If you have running water and a fridge, you can't be poor. DMN hath decreed.

David's problem is as it always has been: a simple inability, arising from devotion to ideology, to recognize power as it actually functions in the world.
   1815. zonk Posted: April 21, 2014 at 06:45 PM (#4690603)
I don't think the overcriminalization of today's society has much to do with preventing a popular uprising against the .1%.



This is true. What is preventing a popular uprising against the .1% is that 1) they have all of the big guns, and 2) the people are stupid and easily led.


I don't know - prison, law enforcement, and various means of crime control are all really, really big business.

I'm not suggesting some grand plot, but we incarcerate an enormous percent of our population compared to the rest of the civilized/industrialized world. Prisons are big business. Entire towns are dependent staffing the local state/federal prison. You don't have to read too far to find plenty of private prison companies and support businesses that spend hefty sums lobbying state legislatures for various minimum sentencing and get tough on crime measures.... Drug testing is a huge, multi-million dollar business. The NRA has long since to be an organization primarily concerned with 'rights', and fast become a firearms lobbying adjunct - gleefully pushing product in fear of crime, even though anyway you want to slice it - America is safer than it's ever been.

The tendrils spread into the now-glutted and bubble-bursting legal services industry... and the law schools that feed them.

I'm not suggesting some puppet master or masters enacting some grand plan -- but pull a thread....

We've created a huge chunk of our economy predicated on 'crime' and the various 'cures' for it... It's become an industry to give a lot of people something to do, while at the same time, getting the disproportionately poor and disadvantaged out of the way.

Start peeling back the layers, pulling the threads, and it's not that far off from a bad scifi yarn... we just happened to get there somewhat organically, with somewhat uncoordinated intentions, rather than some cabal cooking up a plan to make it happen.
   1816. Publius Publicola Posted: April 21, 2014 at 07:02 PM (#4690610)
If that were the case, we'd expect to see the rich trying to overthrow governments.


Apparently unaware of the American Civil War.
   1817. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: April 21, 2014 at 07:02 PM (#4690611)
No one is going to be starving, but there are some damn poor people in the rural south and mid south. Its closer to Africa than you might imagine. Paul Theroux talked about that in connection with his most recent Africa book - to paraphrase, he said Africa is a real hellhole but HOLY CRAP PARTS OF MISSISSIPPI ARENT AS FAR OFF AS YOU WOULD THINK.
   1818. Steve Treder Posted: April 21, 2014 at 07:05 PM (#4690615)
Africa is a real hellhole but HOLY CRAP PARTS OF MISSISSIPPI ARENT AS FAR OFF AS YOU WOULD THINK.

I've been to some Indian reservations in Arizona, and neither are they.
   1819. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 21, 2014 at 07:06 PM (#4690616)
t's cute that you think you're capable of judging what real poverty is. If you have running water and a fridge, you can't be poor. DMN hath decreed.
Empirically, you're not poor. It's like claiming that the worst MLB player is untalented; it's just empirically silly.

If you have a fridge, then you're probably not eating mud because it's the only way to fill your stomach.
   1820. Steve Treder Posted: April 21, 2014 at 07:07 PM (#4690618)
we just happened to get there somewhat organically, with somewhat uncoordinated intentions, rather than some cabal cooking up a plan to make it happen.

That's just what the cabal WANTS you to think ... ;-p
   1821. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 21, 2014 at 07:28 PM (#4690628)
The richest people in the country are paupers compared to government.

This is a feature, not a bug.
Regardless of whether one approves of that situation -- and I can't imagine why any sane person would¹ -- it reflects how silly the notion that we need government to offset the power of the wealthy is. It's like arguing that your neighbor's toddlers keep playing on your lawn, and so you need land mines and automatic weapons to protect your grass from them. Government doesn't counterbalance the wealthy; it massively overwhelms them.


¹ For people who are claim to be worried about concentrations of power to argue that the biggest, uncheckable concentration of power in history is needed is nutty.
   1822. Steve Treder Posted: April 21, 2014 at 07:34 PM (#4690632)
Government doesn't counterbalance the wealthy; it massively overwhelms them.

David, over the years I've read many, many foolish things you've written, but this one is right up there among the pearls.
   1823. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: April 21, 2014 at 07:36 PM (#4690634)
The problem is not that government power exists. It's that it is allied with wealth rather than opposing wealth. That is, the US has reverted to oligarchy as opposed to pseudo-republican democracy. And you and the libertopians are assisting that process.
   1824. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 21, 2014 at 07:48 PM (#4690644)
I know it's pointless at this juncture, but again, this is your primary failing. Wealth is power.
No. The smallest, weakest level of government can impose its will on me infinitely more than the Kochs can. That's why when Michael Bloomberg wants to socially engineer the world, he gets himself elected and tries to get laws passed -- because he's powerless to effect his will as a merely absurdly-wealthy person.

And you and the libertopians are assisting that process.
No, we're opposing that process, by dispersing power instead of concentrating it in Washington (and to a lesser extent in state capitals). The problem is that government power exists.
   1825. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 21, 2014 at 08:01 PM (#4690651)
No one is going to be starving, but there are some damn poor people in the rural south and mid south. Its closer to Africa than you might imagine. Paul Theroux talked about that in connection with his most recent Africa book - to paraphrase, he said Africa is a real hellhole but HOLY CRAP PARTS OF MISSISSIPPI ARENT AS FAR OFF AS YOU WOULD THINK.

Yet those "damn poor people", who are damn poor compared to how you and I live, have better material conditions than the average middle class American in say, 1950.
   1826. Mefisto Posted: April 21, 2014 at 08:01 PM (#4690652)
Take a third world country with comparatively less law and order -- say, Mexico. The rich still live plenty comfortably; the poor are seriously screwed.


I've tried to make sense of this, but I can't. The fact that Mexico has less law and order says nothing at all about who benefits from the law and order it does have. Nor does it say that the rich wouldn't benefit even more than the poor if Mexico had more law and order.
   1827. Steve Treder Posted: April 21, 2014 at 08:09 PM (#4690653)
The smallest, weakest level of government can impose its will on me infinitely more than the Kochs can.

Again, a feature, not a bug.

But to conclude from this fundamentally sound structural feature that "government doesn't counterbalance the wealthy; it massively overwhelms them" in the United States in 2014 (or for that matter, at any point in history) is to betray stupefying ignorance of the way the world actually operates. I suppose it must make sense in some abstract ideological bubble, but it utterly does not describe factual reality.
   1828. greenback calls it soccer Posted: April 21, 2014 at 08:12 PM (#4690658)
No, we're opposing that process, by dispersing power instead of concentrating it in Washington (and to a lesser extent in state capitals). The problem is that government power exists.

'Fixed that for you' is obnoxious, but you'd be a lot closer to the truth if you dropped the word 'government' there. And power will exist in any advanced economy, which necessarily relies a great deal on individual discretion.
   1829. zonk Posted: April 21, 2014 at 08:20 PM (#4690665)
t's cute that you think you're capable of judging what real poverty is. If you have running water and a fridge, you can't be poor. DMN hath decreed.

Empirically, you're not poor. It's like claiming that the worst MLB player is untalented; it's just empirically silly.


This is the problem with the libertopian concept of 'poor' --

It completely blinds itself to the fact that we're no longer an agrarian nation with lots of free land about.

All the arable land is spoken and in much of the country, you can forget about subsistence hunting.

A refrigerator in vast swaths of the country is an economic necessity for a family simply because you can't just go out and pick/slaughter/hunt tonight's dinner and one and done meals aren't economically feasible.

Of course the US standard of living is higher than Somalia... and it also creates a higher baseline for 'poor' simply because a luxury elsewhere becomes a necessity in a place where wearing patched together burlap might very well get you locked up, but most certainly wouldn't allow you to get and hold a job.
   1830. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: April 21, 2014 at 08:21 PM (#4690668)
HOLY CRAP PARTS OF MISSISSIPPI ARENT AS FAR OFF AS YOU WOULD THINK.

Yet those "damn poor people", who are damn poor compared to how you and I live, have better material conditions than the average middle class American in say, 1950.


You probably haven't spent much time in the Mississippi Delta. Or the 1950s, for that matter.
   1831. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 21, 2014 at 08:32 PM (#4690675)
A refrigerator in vast swaths of the country is an economic necessity for a family simply because you can't just go out and pick/slaughter/hunt tonight's dinner and one and done meals aren't economically feasible.
You're talking about people who can eat every day....
wearing patched together burlap might very well get you locked up, but most certainly wouldn't allow you to get and hold a job.
...and who have the possibility of employment if they wear clothes. This isn't poverty.


(Please note: my argument here, if you've followed this chain of comments, was not, "Boy, poor people in the U.S. are living high on the hog." My argument was about the foolishness of arguments that look at places where there's true, starvation-level mud-eating poverty, and social unrest, and then conclude that this has lessons about U.S. inequality and the danger of social unrest here.)
   1832. Steve Treder Posted: April 21, 2014 at 08:36 PM (#4690677)
This isn't poverty.

This word, "poverty"? I do not think it means what you think it means.
   1833. Publius Publicola Posted: April 21, 2014 at 08:37 PM (#4690678)
Regardless of whether one approves of that situation -- and I can't imagine why any sane person would¹


Because you can vote elected officials out of office. You can't vote to have some rich guy disenfranchised so he doesn't have the capability to make everyone else miserable.
   1834. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 21, 2014 at 08:41 PM (#4690682)
Its closer to Africa than you might imagine. Paul Theroux talked about that in connection with his most recent Africa book - to paraphrase, he said Africa is a real hellhole but HOLY CRAP PARTS OF MISSISSIPPI ARENT AS FAR OFF AS YOU WOULD THINK.
I can't find where Theroux said that exactly, but I see somewhere where he gave an interview in which he said "But for some reason, the romance of building a school in Africa is greater than the obligation we have to build a school in rural Alabama. And there are some very bad schools there. There are parts of South Carolina that look like Zimbabwe. Allendale, which is a town south of Columbia, where I spent some time recently, is one. There's no employment. Everything is closed. Local industry has been outsourced." Setting aside the silliness of singling out a tiny town -- Allendale is 3 square miles and 3,500 people -- this is nutty. Zimbabwe's per capita income: about $700. Allendale's per capita income: about $10,000. (Keep in mind that the Zimbabwe figure is the PPP-adjusted figure, so it already factors in the lower cost of living there.)
   1835. CrosbyBird Posted: April 21, 2014 at 08:42 PM (#4690685)
I don't think any of that evidence looks at a situation even remotely like that about which Krugman complains in the U.S.: inequality without sub-subsistence-level poverty, in which the "inequality" really involves a handful of really rich people (the ".1%")

Things may be a lot worse than you realize here in the US. More than 20% of the nation's children live below the poverty line, which seems outrageously low to me (for a single, it's less than $12,000). There are over 600,000 homeless people in America; almost half of them are working homeless.

I don't think the overcriminalization of today's society has much to do with preventing a popular uprising against the .1%.

Relative to the rest of the world, we've got a lot more bread and circuses, but social unrest isn't a binary thing. Sam thinks it's that people are stupid, and surely that's a part of it, but I also think there are some perverse incentives that drive up crime and violence, and also that keep criminals from re-assimilating into society.
   1836. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 21, 2014 at 08:45 PM (#4690686)
Because you can vote elected officials out of office.
No, the majority maybe can, eventually; I can't. And that assumes that voting elected officials out actually changes things; the government is still there, still exercising its power, regardless of who sits in office.
You can't vote to have some rich guy disenfranchised so he doesn't have the capability to make everyone else miserable.
I don't need to. I just need to do business with someone else, instead. Then he can't make my life miserable; he can't do anything to me.
   1837. Morty Causa Posted: April 21, 2014 at 09:46 PM (#4690738)
No; concentrations of power -- i.e., government -- lead to political instability.

That's a quibble. Mostly the two go hand in hand. There is no person or entity with wealth that doesn't have power--and vice versa. And it's a real problem where that wealth renders government ineffective or subverts its primary purpose as third-party monitor and referee.

If that were the case, we'd expect to see the rich trying to overthrow governments. But of course it's the opposite; the extraordinarily wealthy typically work within government to maintain and increase their privilege. They do not see themselves as rivals to the government, but as partners with it. (People like the Kochs, who actually want the government to leave them alone, are the exceptions.)

They do both. It's about getting their way, one way or the other. It's about giving government no option other than to let them have their way..

An individual business might not want to have competing sovereigns, but an overall economy is much more effective with competition.

I agree. But not unbridled competition, and not when in competition with the government as legitimate agent of the entire community.

   1838. Lassus Posted: April 21, 2014 at 09:58 PM (#4690757)
I just need to do business with someone else, instead. Then he can't make my life miserable; he can't do anything to me.

I will also freely cop to believing a lot of completely stupid shit.
   1839. Morty Causa Posted: April 21, 2014 at 09:58 PM (#4690758)
No one is going to be starving, but there are some damn poor people in the rural south and mid south. Its closer to Africa than you might imagine. Paul Theroux talked about that in connection with his most recent Africa book - to paraphrase, he said Africa is a real hellhole but HOLY CRAP PARTS OF MISSISSIPPI ARENT AS FAR OFF AS YOU WOULD THINK.

We don't have poverty to the extent and degree of third world countries for a good reason. Government. I will always remember Robert F. Kennedy coming out of that shack in Mississippi in 1968, his visage absolutely ashen. He simply couldn't believe people lived like that. Thinking that poverty like that in this country just went away on its own, or did so through only the devices of the private sector, is just a rank and wilful denial of cause and effect.
   1840. Morty Causa Posted: April 21, 2014 at 10:06 PM (#4690762)
you'd be a lot closer to the truth if you dropped the word 'government' there. And power will exist in any advanced economy, which necessarily relies a great deal on individual discretion.

Yes. I've said a million times on these boards: you will have government. You can call it something else, but power will be exercised. If not the government, the Koches or Walmart. To better make use of power so as to materially benefit is what organizations, private and public, are for. If magically tomorrow there would be no US government, there would be a massive, horrendous, calamitous jousting to fill that vacuum.
   1841. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 21, 2014 at 10:31 PM (#4690780)
It is zero for the example being discussed — an additional resident of, or visitor to, any given community.

Do you really think NYC knows the exact headcount for NYC and adjusts its police expenditures accordingly on a day-to-day basis?


"Too low to be properly measured" is how "zero" is defined within the context of a public good.

Beyond that, in what ways will I incur an additional but immeasurable cost of policing on some adjacent town if I drive over for dinner right now?


Wherein Joe shows he does not understand basic economic concepts, like for example marginal cost.

So let's assume 2 officers per 1,000 people in a city. To make the math easy. Now let's assume with salary, benefits, training and equipment it costs $100,000 per officer (also to make the math easy).

So when a city gains a person, they don't hire a new 2/1000 of an officer. However every five hundred or so people they hire an officer. This costs $100,000/year. So the marginal cost of each new person in the city is NOT zero for 499 and then $100,000 for the last one, instead it is $200 per person.

So no the city doesn't adjust the police force for every single family moving in or out of the city, but they do monitor trends and there is a marginal cost per person. So no, not so much a public good.

And yes I apologize to every on this thread who is not a moron and has figured this out without me having to detail it out.
   1842. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 21, 2014 at 10:45 PM (#4690798)
There are over 600,000 homeless people in America; almost half of them are working homeless.
(1) 600,000 people is about 0.2% percent of the population. Which makes 99.8% of the population not homeless. (2) Homelessness statistics are generally unreliable, and extremely susceptible to definitions; the best estimate I can see is that this word "homeless," though it conjures up images of sleeping on park benches, actually comprises people living in shelters as well. Not ideal, to be sure, but not Darfurian refugees, either.

As for the poverty line, first of all, definitionally, the cutoff is over $15,000 (since any household with a child has at least two people in it); second, while $15,000 seems low, remember that it doesn't include any non-cash welfare benefits such as food stamps, medicaid, or public housing or housing vouchers, nor does it include cash earned 'off the books'; third, while $15,000 sounds incredibly low in, say, NJ, it's a nationwide standard.
   1843. tshipman Posted: April 21, 2014 at 11:02 PM (#4690809)
As for the poverty line, first of all, definitionally, the cutoff is over $15,000 (since any household with a child has at least two people in it); second, while $15,000 seems low, remember that it doesn't include any non-cash welfare benefits such as food stamps, medicaid, or public housing or housing vouchers, nor does it include cash earned 'off the books'; third, while $15,000 sounds incredibly low in, say, NJ, it's a nationwide standard.


Yes, but David, you want to get rid of all of those.
   1844. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 21, 2014 at 11:05 PM (#4690811)
No one is going to be starving, but there are some damn poor people in the rural south and mid south. Its closer to Africa than you might imagine. Paul Theroux talked about that in connection with his most recent Africa book - to paraphrase, he said Africa is a real hellhole but HOLY CRAP PARTS OF MISSISSIPPI ARENT AS FAR OFF AS YOU WOULD THINK.


Yet those "damn poor people", who are damn poor compared to how you and I live, have better material conditions than the average middle class American in say, 1950.

Paul Theroux's comparison is wildly exaggerated, but it's equally insane to think that the rural poor in the South or Appalachia have even remotely the level of comfort that a middle class family had in 1950. Cell phones and color TVs don't make up for terrible housing, schools and health care.

A middle class family in 1950 could afford to live in a clean and safe Manhattan apartment, or buy a solid 3 or 4 bedroom house in any city in the country. Good apartments in New York could be had for under $75 a month, and my decidedly middle class parents bought a 4 bedroom house in Cleveland Park in 1951 for $18,500. The rural poor of today don't live in conditions within a mile of that, even with their welfare cell phones and big screen TVs. As YR says, you must not have spent much time either in the Mississippi Delta or in the 1950's.
   1845. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 21, 2014 at 11:06 PM (#4690812)
Yes, but David, you want to get rid of all of those.

But strictly for character building reasons.

   1846. McCoy Posted: April 21, 2014 at 11:15 PM (#4690814)
A middle class family in 1950 could afford to live in a clean and safe Manhattan apartment, or buy a solid 3 or 4 bedroom house in any city in the country. Good apartments in New York could be had for under $75 a month, and my decidedly middle class parents bought a 4 bedroom house in Cleveland Park in 1951 for $18,500. The rural poor of today don't live in conditions within a mile of that, even with their welfare cell phones and big screen TVs. As YR says, you must not have spent much time either in the Mississippi Delta or in the 1950's.

And yet there was a housing crunch and millions of sons and daughters lived with their parents and quite possibly with their grandparents as well well into their 20's and even into their 30's.
   1847. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: April 21, 2014 at 11:17 PM (#4690817)
I will always remember Robert F. Kennedy coming out of that shack in Mississippi in 1968, his visage absolutely ashen. He simply couldn't believe people lived like that. Thinking that poverty like that in this country just went away on its own, or did so through only the devices of the private sector, is just a rank and wilful denial of cause and effect.


This past spring break, my family took a vacation to a mountain cottage in northern Georgia (the state). In that area, I could not believe the horror show that some of those residences were. In my youth in suburban Chicago in the 1970's, I never saw anything remotely close to that sort of plight.
   1848. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 21, 2014 at 11:34 PM (#4690822)
A middle class family in 1950 could afford to live in a clean and safe Manhattan apartment, or buy a solid 3 or 4 bedroom house in any city in the country. Good apartments in New York could be had for under $75 a month, and my decidedly middle class parents bought a 4 bedroom house in Cleveland Park in 1951 for $18,500. The rural poor of today don't live in conditions within a mile of that, even with their welfare cell phones and big screen TVs. As YR says, you must not have spent much time either in the Mississippi Delta or in the 1950's.

And yet there was a housing crunch and millions of sons and daughters lived with their parents and quite possibly with their grandparents as well well into their 20's and even into their 30's.


This is true, but (a) that was a temporary postwar phenomenon which had largely passed by 1950, and (b) even for those few middle class families who still had to double up, it wasn't remotely as bad as today's poverty in the rural South or rural Appalachia. No middle class families in 1950 ever lived like this.
   1849. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 22, 2014 at 12:00 AM (#4690830)
Wherein Joe shows he does not understand basic economic concepts, like for example marginal cost.

So let's assume 2 officers per 1,000 people in a city. To make the math easy. Now let's assume with salary, benefits, training and equipment it costs $100,000 per officer (also to make the math easy).

So when a city gains a person, they don't hire a new 2/1000 of an officer. However every five hundred or so people they hire an officer. This costs $100,000/year. So the marginal cost of each new person in the city is NOT zero for 499 and then $100,000 for the last one, instead it is $200 per person.

So no the city doesn't adjust the police force for every single family moving in or out of the city, but they do monitor trends and there is a marginal cost per person. So no, not so much a public good.

If they only hire a new officer after +500 in population growth but the 500th person never moves to town, there was no marginal cost to persons 1 through 499. Thanks for recapping the point I made multiple prior times.

And yes I apologize to every on this thread who is not a moron and has figured this out without me having to detail it out.

I wish you played poker, because this shtick is an obvious tell. You never fail to bust it out when you're in a hole and desperate.
   1850. CrosbyBird Posted: April 22, 2014 at 12:00 AM (#4690831)
As for the poverty line, first of all, definitionally, the cutoff is over $15,000 (since any household with a child has at least two people in it)

The phrasing in that sentence was a little weird, but I did say less than $12,000 for "a single."
   1851. Gaelan Posted: April 22, 2014 at 01:20 AM (#4690849)
No. The smallest, weakest level of government can impose its will on me infinitely more than the Kochs can. That's why when Michael Bloomberg wants to socially engineer the world, he gets himself elected and tries to get laws passed -- because he's powerless to effect his will as a merely absurdly-wealthy person.


The absurdly wealthy can't effect their will because the government, and only the government, stops them. How is this not obvious? Or to put it another way, if you got rid of the government that currently exists, the absurdly wealthy would become the government. Again, how is this not obvious?

The social world of human beings is governed by power. This is axiomatic. It is impossible to imagine a social world without power. But this is all misdirection because David knows this as well as anyone, and indeed, he doesn't want to get rid of government, for he needs the government to prevent the concentration of power. He doesn't want to get rid of government, he wants it to do some things and not do other things. Just like everyone else.

The problem is that his particular goals are contradictory since the only way to prevent the concentration of power is by concentrating power in an institution strong enough to prevent the concentration of power.

   1852. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 22, 2014 at 01:26 AM (#4690852)
The problem is that his particular goals are contradictory since the only way to prevent the concentration of power is by concentrating power in an institution strong enough to prevent the concentration of power.
No. The only way to prevent the concentration of power is to disperse it among multiple competing entities.

(You are correct that I do not advocate eliminating government entirely -- just, as the cliché goes, shrinking it down to a size where it can be drowned in a bathtub.)
   1853. Morty Causa Posted: April 22, 2014 at 02:18 AM (#4690857)
1852:

The contradiction is staring you in the face. How is it possible to do that, to prevent the concentration of power you loathed so much, to disperse it like you want it to be--all without an engine generating the force capable of doing that, and of furthering and maintaining that?

To work with your cliche: be careful of the force and power of that which is strong enough to drown something. Are you sure you won't need something to drown the drowner? And where will that come from?

You can't get around what I wrote up thread: you have to come to terms with power. Power will be used by somebody. And money and wealth is power. If you want to fragment power, you should start at that which engenders it, at the causes, and not so obsess with the symptoms.
   1854. Lassus Posted: April 22, 2014 at 06:00 AM (#4690869)
No. The only way to prevent the concentration of power is to disperse it among multiple competing entities.

And which of those entities shall you be conscripted for? I hope you're looking forward to basic training.
   1855. formerly dp Posted: April 22, 2014 at 06:26 AM (#4690871)
Empirically, you're not poor. It's like claiming that the worst MLB player is untalented; it's just empirically silly.

If you have a fridge, then you're probably not eating mud because it's the only way to fill your stomach.
If your claim is that you have to be eating mud to be poor, I don't think you're qualified to use words like 'empirically' in this context. You don't do yourself any favors with these types of arguments. Or when you use '80sisms like 'welfare queen' with a straight face. But no one's ever accused you of seeking credibility in these discussions.
   1856. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 22, 2014 at 07:45 AM (#4690880)
If they only hire a new officer after +500 in population growth but the 500th person never moves to town, there was no marginal cost to persons 1 through 499. Thanks for recapping the point I made multiple prior times.


You have never dealt with staffing, clearly. And never taken an economics course. You should get yourself an education young man, it will do you a world of good.

And I do play poker, have for years. I am slightly above average (my problem is I get bored and want to play a hand and do, even when I should fold).
   1857. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 22, 2014 at 07:50 AM (#4690881)
It's cute that you think you're capable of judging what real poverty is. If you have running water and a fridge, you can't be poor. DMN hath decreed.


Empirically, you're not poor. It's like claiming that the worst MLB player is untalented; it's just empirically silly.

Since at today's tax rates, you've claimed that about 30% of your life has been "stolen", how "empirically" high would they have to go before you'd be stretched out on a slab in the morgue?
   1858. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 22, 2014 at 08:07 AM (#4690886)
Empirical: based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.

Poor: lacking sufficient money to live at a standard considered comfortable or normal in a society


Empirically, you're not poor. It's like claiming that the worst MLB player is untalented; it's just empirically silly.


Since being poor is based on what is considered comfortable or normal in society, I think a certain segment (percent) at the bottom of the income bracket are poor. Using that definition the poor will always be with us. What David is suggesting is that at a certain level of base comfort we should stop caring that they are poor (even if they fit the definition),because they are not "eating mud".

There is also the dodge being used, where he redefines society (only for this specific narrow discussion point) to cover the whole world, so that most of the poor are redefined out of the US and can then truly be ignored.

As to the division of power argument, our government is divided, with plenty of checks and balances, and for that very reason. I wish government was less powerful, but that doesn't mean I think making corporations or wealthy individuals more powerful is a good answer (the phrase cure worse than the disease come to mind).

I would prefer more constitutional protections for individuals and fewer for corporations (treating corporations like people - still a terrible idea). The government can still have the same (roughly) amount of power, but individuals are more protected and companies less so.

For example I think there should be an actual right to privacy in the constitution (not the made up one) or perhaps a right to have some control of ones own data. (Note: this is just an example and for obvious reasons not going to happen).
   1859. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: April 22, 2014 at 08:38 AM (#4690901)
No. The only way to prevent the concentration of power is to disperse it among multiple competing entities.

And which of those entities shall you be conscripted for?


I'm thinking he's more of a Blood than a Crip. What you reppin' G?
   1860. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 22, 2014 at 08:43 AM (#4690907)
Paul Theroux's comparison is wildly exaggerated, but it's equally insane to think that the rural poor in the South or Appalachia have even remotely the level of comfort that a middle class family had in 1950. Cell phones and color TVs don't make up for terrible housing, schools and health care.

Health care in the worst county hospital in the US today is miles ahead of the average standard of care in 1950. The technologies and drugs available swamp any levels of competency. You'd much rather be treated by a poor doctor with 2014 technology than a great doctor with 1950 technology.

If you're never going to work, what difference do bad schools make? I'd also argue the schools are bad because the students and parents don't care about learning. Materially they are no worse than the public and parochial schools of 1950, with 45 students per class.

As for housing, if your house is falling apart, that's on you. Show some effort and repair it. People with and heat, and electricity, and hot and cold running water, and phones, and TVs, and AC and cars, can not be viewed as materially poor. My middle class parents didn't have phones, or a TV until the late 1960's.

They are socially poor, because their culture is defective and they live like animals. But that would be true if you moved them to Beverly Hills.
   1861. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 22, 2014 at 08:49 AM (#4690912)
Health care in the worst county hospital in the US today is miles ahead of the average standard of care in 1950. The technologies and drugs available swamp any levels of competency. You'd much rather be treated by a poor doctor with 2014 technology than a great doctor with 1950 technology.


Poor is a relative term and not an absolute standard. Relative to the rest of US society there are in fact many poor and some of those in true poverty.
   1862. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 22, 2014 at 08:57 AM (#4690917)
Poor is a relative term and not an absolute standard. Relative to the rest of US society there are in fact many poor and some of those in true poverty.

Relatively, sure. But that will always, always be true. There will always be a bottom 10%. The issue is, if that bottom 10% has a comfortable existence, why do we care?

If someone doesn't have enough to eat, or a place to live, or necessary medicines, then yes, I believe we have a moral obligation to help them. But just because a person has a less nice house, or not a good medical care as the middle class, doesn't confer an obligation on the rest of society to give them more.

But this discussion started with claims that there were people at "subsistence level" in the US. That's not a claim of relative poverty, that's a claim of absolute poverty.
   1863. McCoy Posted: April 22, 2014 at 08:58 AM (#4690919)
We've talked about it before (because Andy bringing up the good old days) but the way of life for white working families in the post-war era was an aberration in world history. The good old days was created on the coffins of millions and the repression of billions including citizens of our very own country.
   1864. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 22, 2014 at 09:04 AM (#4690923)
We've talked about it before (because Andy bringing up the good old days) but the way of life for white working families in the post-war era was an aberration in world history. The good old days was created on the coffins of millions and the repression of billions including citizens of our very own country.

That doesn't make any sense. We're far wealthier now as a nation than we were then. If we could figure out a way to restructure our society to shift income from capital to labor, and especially to unskilled labor, we could redistribute that wealth and recreate that standard of living. The trick is you can't do it via the welfare state. It doesn't work.
   1865. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 22, 2014 at 09:17 AM (#4690927)
Relatively, sure. But that will always, always be true. There will always be a bottom 10%. The issue is, if that bottom 10% has a comfortable existence, why do we care?


A variety of reasons. I think there is a moral component to seeing to it that the rising tide lifts all boats, and not just a few. There is also a practical (political) reason that has been discussed up thread that there is very likely more political stability with less income disparity from high to low. And finally there are economic reasons to believe that extreme income/wealth disparity is bad for economic growth.

So there are moral, political and economic reasons to care about income disparity, and the best way to reduce income disparity is to tax the rich and give to the poor, because then both sides of the equation are addressed in one policy.

There is also a philosophical dimension. I aspire to more than comfort. I want my country, my society, my world to strive for more than comfort. I want greatness I want the best for everyone, because I believe that people are both our greatest asset and one of our goals. Building our human capital by reducing income disparity, but giving more people more resources to be great, to educate themselves and their children, to create works of art and so on is worthwhile even if you ignore or dispute the morality, politics and economics.

EDIT: There is also an ecological reason, birth rates drop with increases in income. I think there are too many people on Earth and our billions are not truly sustainable, so increases in income are also better long term for the planet I like to call home. I want it nice for my (to be) grandchildren.
   1866. GregD Posted: April 22, 2014 at 09:18 AM (#4690928)
That doesn't make any sense. We're far wealthier now as a nation than we were then. If we could figure out a way to restructure our society to shift income from capital to labor, and especially to unskilled labor, we could redistribute that wealth and recreate that standard of living. The trick is you can't do it via the welfare state. It doesn't work.
???

It does work and it did work.

What we couldn't do is sustain it once it became clear the welfare transfers were going to non-white people, too.

But we ran a fine welfare state for whites only.


They are socially poor, because their culture is defective and they live like animals. But that would be true if you moved them to Beverly Hills.
I always find it fascinating that the culture of poverty suddenly gets so much more prevalent when the economy collapses. It's almost enough to make you wonder whether the economy is driving the issue, and the "culture" is just a trailing effect, isn't it?
   1867. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 22, 2014 at 09:27 AM (#4690937)
It does work and it did work.

What we couldn't do is sustain it once it became clear the welfare transfers were going to non-white people, too.

But we ran a fine welfare state for whites only.


No, it didn't work. The expansion of the welfare state in the 1960's led to a social collapse among its beneficiaries, starting with blacks, but since spreading to hispanics and whites as well. The collapse of marriage, the collapse of labor force participation, increased crime and substance abuse.

The welfare state for old people worked, because their habits and morals were already fixed.

I always find it fascinating that the culture of poverty suddenly gets so much more prevalent when the economy collapses. It's almost enough to make you wonder whether the economy is driving the issue, and the "culture" is just a trailing effect, isn't it?

Again, not true. Crime went down during the Great Depression. There was no explosion of single parent families, alcohol or drug abuse, etc. The culture of poverty exploded in the 1960's, which was the most prosperous decade in US history.
   1868. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 22, 2014 at 09:27 AM (#4690938)
No. The only way to prevent the concentration of power is to disperse it among multiple competing entities.


The recent news about the tech companies' wage-fixing cartel ought to demonstrate the limits of competition and distributed power, without any oversight to ensure that it remains thus.
   1869. zonk Posted: April 22, 2014 at 09:29 AM (#4690939)

That doesn't make any sense. We're far wealthier now as a nation than we were then. If we could figure out a way to restructure our society to shift income from capital to labor, and especially to unskilled labor, we could redistribute that wealth and recreate that standard of living. The trick is you can't do it via the welfare state. It doesn't work.


"Asking nicely" hasn't helped either... I don't think protectionism is the answer -- with unions on the wane, modern American attempts at protectionism tend to be industry gifts that perhaps save 'jobs' in the short-term, but have done very little to hike wages (agricultural migrant workers still make crap, for example, to whatever extent we employ agricultural subsidies that would be considered soft protectionism). If there's an answer beyond confiscatory redistributive policies -- fine, not "welfare" -- but some publicly provided basic slate of goods.... housing, healthcare, etc -- I don't know what it is.

(Please note: my argument here, if you've followed this chain of comments, was not, "Boy, poor people in the U.S. are living high on the hog." My argument was about the foolishness of arguments that look at places where there's true, starvation-level mud-eating poverty, and social unrest, and then conclude that this has lessons about U.S. inequality and the danger of social unrest here.)


People who aren't starving - but aren't excelling - have more time to foment or participate in rebellion... The French that were a part of the French revolution were probably better off than the serfs of Imperial Russia -- but the French populace changed their form of government more than a century before the Russians, and the Russian peasants of the early 20th century (I suppose you could point to WW I as something that can't be ignored) were probably better off than the subjects of the puppet monarchies of the middle east, India, and Pacific Rim, etc.

Historically, revolutions -- or at least, deposing of the current government -- have happened far more often somewhere in the middle than at the bottom of the world wealth scale... Starving people make poor revolutionaries compared to unhappy people.

But even beyond that - I've always found these sorts of comparisons self-defeating... It's the sign of a waning society -- a rotting Rome insisting its citizenry is still better off than the barbarians at the gate, a fat Europe telling its colonies they're still better off under the guidance of enlightenment, etc. Progress sets the bar beyond -- not looks to the floors backwards.
   1870. McCoy Posted: April 22, 2014 at 09:29 AM (#4690940)
Again, not true. Crime went down during the Great Depression. There was no explosion of single parent families, alcohol or drug abuse, etc. The culture of poverty exploded in the 1960's, which was the most prosperous decade in US history.

This reminds me of a Heritage Foundation funded documentary that tried to make the claim that 18th century America was practically crime free.

I also think you're blaming the medication for the sickness.
   1871. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 22, 2014 at 09:33 AM (#4690946)

No, it didn't work. The expansion of the welfare state in the 1960's led to a social collapse among its beneficiaries, starting with blacks, but since spreading to hispanics and whites as well. The collapse of marriage, the collapse of labor force participation, increased crime and substance abuse.


Labor force participation for men has been on a steady, but slow, decline since the 1950s. The labor-force participation rate for women surged in the 1960s. As a result, there was no 'collapse' in the 1960s. In fact, civilian labor participation rate peaked in 2000.

I'll leave the remaining misconceptions to others.
   1872. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 22, 2014 at 09:37 AM (#4690948)
Again, not true. Crime went down during the Great Depression. There was no explosion of single parent families, alcohol or drug abuse, etc. The culture of poverty exploded in the 1960's, which was the most prosperous decade in US history.


Wait a minute.

I love how crime = single parent families, alcohol and drug abuse. What? Crime is crime, and I am pretty sure single parenting is not criminal. Drug abuse may or may not have increased, but a big chunk of that is availability of drugs and surplus income to pay for it (and only some of it is a crime). And alcohol abuse was a crime* during the beginning of the Great Depression during prohibition, but not afterwards.

And not only are you conflating crime with single parenting we also have the "Culture of poverty". What is that? is it single parenting, drug abuse and alcohol abuse?
   1873. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 22, 2014 at 09:39 AM (#4690950)
The collapse of marriage, the collapse of labor force participation, increased crime and substance abuse.


I happen to believe the increase in crime is much more tied to lead (and decrease in crime lead abatement) than in anything to do with welfare. I have posted various links previously regarding this issue. I can find them (later) if anyone cares (or you can google it yourself - you can get many sides of the debate pretty easily).
   1874. BrianBrianson Posted: April 22, 2014 at 09:40 AM (#4690951)
The only way to prevent the concentration of power is to disperse it among multiple competing entities.


Well, this is more or less true, which is why given the chance, the competing entities almost invariably decide it's in their best interests to not compete. This is tough to do in markets that can be entered freely by anyone, but most industries have way too high an entry cost to worry about this. If you're a busker or something, you may have to restrict entry to the market with violence or something.
   1875. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: April 22, 2014 at 09:44 AM (#4690954)
They are socially poor, because their culture is defective and they live like animals. But that would be true if you moved them to Beverly Hills.

Yowza
   1876. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: April 22, 2014 at 09:45 AM (#4690955)
Crime has been declining steadily -- and independently of economic ups and downs -- since 1990.
   1877. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: April 22, 2014 at 09:46 AM (#4690957)
If you're a busker or something, you may have to restrict entry to the market with violence or something.


A dance-off. Duh.
   1878. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 22, 2014 at 09:49 AM (#4690961)
We've talked about it before (because Andy bringing up the good old days) but the way of life for white working families in the post-war era was an aberration in world history. The good old days was created on the coffins of millions and the repression of billions including citizens of our very own country.

Lots of truth to that, but I was responding to a point asserted about the standard of living of the middle class in 1950 vs. the rural poor of today. The point you're making here raises a different issue altogether.

And BTW if you've ever heard me talk about "the good old days" in any sort of overall narrative form, feel free to call me out on it. I've never once made any sort of broad generalization about the quality of life then vs. the quality of life today, because the answer is in turn so dependent on "better for whom?" and "better in what way?". It's like asking six blind men to feel six different parts of an elephant and asking them to describe the beast.
   1879. Ron J2 Posted: April 22, 2014 at 09:49 AM (#4690962)
#1778 We've indeed had the conversation. Teddy R. made his claim more cautiously (can't find his exact words right now) -- that it was those who were building wealth who gained disproportionately.

As always, it's a mistake to try and summarize Teddy R. His point was much more nuanced than that. And part of that was that he was always trying to deal with the realities of the constraints the system created. He was both a Progressive and a Republican and tried to balance both. Reading Bully Pulpit right now and am greatly enjoying it.
   1880. Ron J2 Posted: April 22, 2014 at 09:53 AM (#4690964)
#1800 Mentioned the Jay Gould quote before: "I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half."
   1881. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 22, 2014 at 10:05 AM (#4690974)
I happen to believe the increase in crime is much more tied to lead (and decrease in crime lead abatement) than in anything to do with welfare.


Correlation isn't causation, but.... sometimes correlation is evidence of causation

you know it would be really funny if after all the debate and discussion regarding crime, policing, the "root casues" of crime, ad nauseum from the 60 through the 70s, 80s and 90s, if lead exposure turns out to have been the primary driver of the post war crime surge...
   1882. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 22, 2014 at 10:11 AM (#4690983)
you know it would be really funny if after all the debate and discussion regarding crime, policing, the "root casues" of crime, ad nauseum from the 60 through the 70s, 80s and 90s, if lead exposure turns out to have been the primary driver of the post war crime surge...


Or something completely off our radar like Astroturf or Zubaz.
   1883. The Good Face Posted: April 22, 2014 at 10:15 AM (#4690985)
Correlation isn't causation, but.... sometimes correlation is evidence of causation

you know it would be really funny if after all the debate and discussion regarding crime, policing, the "root casues" of crime, ad nauseum from the 60 through the 70s, 80s and 90s, if lead exposure turns out to have been the primary driver of the post war crime surge...


Based on what I've seen, lead exposure was probably higher in the days of yore, and yes that's accounting for the years of leaded gas.

Looking at imprisonment rates, it seems the biggest driver behind lowered crime was USG's decision to lock up a huge chunk of their lumpenproles. Of course, some of it is just states and municipalities lying and defining crime down, but it still seems pretty clear that there was an actual drop.
   1884. GordonShumway Posted: April 22, 2014 at 10:21 AM (#4690995)
That doesn't make any sense. We're far wealthier now as a nation than we were then. If we could figure out a way to restructure our society to shift income from capital to labor, and especially to unskilled labor, we could redistribute that wealth and recreate that standard of living. The trick is you can't do it via the welfare state. It doesn't work.


In nominal terms, the country is certainly far wealthier, but the country in its post WW2 expansion era had over 40% of the entire world's GDP; at present the country's share of the world's GDP is less than 20% and is shrinking every year.

Granted, the country's population is also smaller a percentage of the world population today than it was back than, but that still doesn't not account for all, or even most, of the difference.

Also, I'm very skeptical how much shifting income to labor would really help labor. The "Top 1%" make on average very roughly $1 million a year - or about 20x as much as the average person. There are a little over 3 million people in this rarefied position. They pay on average, about 20% of their income in taxes.

Let's assume a hypothetical world were somehow we can double the taxes the rich pay, so now they pay an extra 20% of their income in taxes. Let's also assume that there's no second-order effects. Frankly, that's an optimistic scenario bordering (if not well past) absurdity, as at no point have the wealthy paid that much of their income in taxes in this country and every time taxes have gone up, lawyers and accountants have always tried their best to minimize their clients' tax burden.

So there would be 3 million people * $1 million * 20%: $600 billion. If we were to give all that money to the 150 million people or so who make the bottom half of this country's income bracket, each person would get $4,000.

That's a nice sum, but wouldn't anywhere close to bringing people back to mid 20th century postwar prosperity.

We've talked about it before (because Andy bringing up the good old days) but the way of life for white working families in the post-war era was an aberration in world history. The good old days was created on the coffins of millions and the repression of billions including citizens of our very own country.


I tend to agree with this. America in 1945 was the only major economic power to escape WWII without horrible losses of lives and property. For the next 20 years or so, it could buy raw materials (most notably, petroleum) in the world market at very low prices since all the other major powers were too poor to buy such materials in any great quantity and the country could name its price for its finished consumer goods sold in the world market as no other country had the industrial capacity to provide anything beyond negligible competition to the US.

I would ask anyone how we can get back to the postwar golden-age of broad-based economic prosperity with the much, much more competitive world markets we have today.
   1885. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 22, 2014 at 10:33 AM (#4691007)
Let's assume a hypothetical world were somehow we can double the taxes the rich pay, so now they pay an extra 20% of their income in taxes. Let's also assume that there's no second-order effects. Frankly, that's an optimistic scenario bordering (if not well past) absurdity, as at no point have the wealthy paid that much of their income in taxes in this country and every time taxes have gone up, lawyers and accountants have always tried their best to minimize their clients' tax burden.

So there would be 3 million people * $1 million * 20%: $600 billion. If we were to give all that money to the 150 million people or so who make the bottom half of this country's income bracket, each person would get $4,000.


I get that this is a "back of the envelope" thing, but their are a couple things. First of all $4000 a year makes a huge difference, especially since you are assigning to every person (not just every adult or every household) and being very generous who you assign it to. If you change it to the bottom 20% it is $10,000 (again this is also back of the envelope, I still prefer minimum income to everyone, but still) and that makes a giant difference in their life.

The other factor, which is a challenge, is that this is a wealth thing and not just income, and the disparity in wealth is (I believe) even greater than that in income. Of course if you lean hard enough on income long enough you can start to shift the wealth imbalance.

And finally let's make sure we are including all income in our income bucket. Interest, capital gains, loophole X, y, and z as well.
   1886. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 22, 2014 at 10:37 AM (#4691011)
In nominal terms, the country is certainly far wealthier, but the country in its post WW2 expansion era had over 40% of the entire world's GDP; at present the country's share of the world's GDP is less than 20% and is shrinking every year.

Granted, the country's population is also smaller a percentage of the world population today than it was back than, but that still doesn't not account for all, or even most, of the difference.


I also think it is a good thing (certainly for the rest of the world) that they are catching up to (in some cases passing) the US. Just as I think income (wealth) disparity long term is a problem within a country, I believe disparity across countries is also a problem. It is important that countries have the opportunity to improve, and to do that they need to grow and given all the factors when you start where South Korea (for example) did you need to have a growth rate higher than the US (as a mature economy) will see over a long period of time.

And South Korea doing well does not hurt the US, it helps us. They have contributed a great deal to the world and will continue to do so, and they contribute more as a thriving and rich nation than as a poor one.
   1887. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: April 22, 2014 at 10:39 AM (#4691015)
So there would be 3 million people * $1 million * 20%: $600 billion. If we were to give all that money to the 150 million people or so who make the bottom half of this country's income bracket, each person would get $4,000.

But $600B a year would pay for a hell of a lot of new infrastructure, schools, daycare, etc.

Edit: And, like Bitter Mouse said, $4K is a lot of money to someone making $15-20K a year. So whether that money goes directly to labor or goes indirectly via government programs, it could have a huge impact.
   1888. GregD Posted: April 22, 2014 at 10:52 AM (#4691026)
The New NYT data-based site has a big piece on American income in relation to other European countries

In 1980 the US was first or in one case second in after-tax income at 5th, 10th, 20th, 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th, 70th, 80th, 90th, and 95th percentile.

Now the US is last in 5th, second to last in 10th, middle of the pack in 20th, 30th, and 40th, 2nd (to Canada) in 50th, 1st in 60th, 70th 80th and 90th, and 1st and rising wildly relative to our peers at 95th.

As with the social welfare state, one can argue against it ethically and one can debate implementation, but the argument that it is impossible to address inequality or to build a functioning social welfare is just flat false. Other countries are doing much better than we are. Possibly we could learn something?
   1889. The Good Face Posted: April 22, 2014 at 11:01 AM (#4691035)
As with the social welfare state, one can argue against it ethically and one can debate implementation, but the argument that it is impossible to address inequality or to build a functioning social welfare is just flat false. Other countries are doing much better than we are. Possibly we could learn something?


Sure. We've learned that if we split USG into many smaller, racially homogenous entities, those entities would probably do much better with the whole socialism/welfare state thing.
   1890. GregD Posted: April 22, 2014 at 11:04 AM (#4691040)
Sure. We've learned that if we split USG into many smaller, racially homogenous entities, those entities would probably do much better with the whole socialism/welfare state thing.
Most likely.

But the argument that "it is possible to build a well-functioning welfare state but is difficult to sustain it democratically in a heterogeneous society" is totally different than the argument that it is impossible to build a well-functioning welfare state. It also places the arguer in a different position. Why is it impossible? Because of the racism of the majority population? Is this a natural fact of life like gravity? Probably not. Could the arguer do something about it rather than handwave? Almost certainly. So it again becomes an argument that a welfare state is undesirable or ethically unappealing, which is an absolutely legitimate position (though not mine) but not the false position that it is impossible.
   1891. tshipman Posted: April 22, 2014 at 11:07 AM (#4691043)
As with the social welfare state, one can argue against it ethically and one can debate implementation, but the argument that it is impossible to address inequality or to build a functioning social welfare is just flat false. Other countries are doing much better than we are. Possibly we could learn something?


Like TGF alludes to, the biggest thing we can learn is to be ethnically homogeneous. Support for the welfare state is limited when middle/upper class people think the money is going to "those people." That one political party panders to this mindset doesn't help matters, but probably would still exist regardless.

<Kristol>
Really, it's a failure of leadership on Obama's part. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk said, "Every Turk's a Turk." Now that's leading. Where is Obama on this issue to show leadership? No wonder the Republican party is racist since Nixon. It's Obama's fault!
</Kristol>
   1892. Mefisto Posted: April 22, 2014 at 11:09 AM (#4691044)
I'd like to see some evidence that crime rates declined in the '30s. The murder rate rose, and that's the best test because statistics for other crimes are subject to lots of variables.
   1893. The Good Face Posted: April 22, 2014 at 11:12 AM (#4691049)
Why is it impossible? Because of the racism of the majority population? Is this a natural fact of life like gravity? Probably not.


What you're describing with the term "racism" is really just another form of tribalism, and tribalism is absolutely a natural fact of life. Perhaps not quite like gravity, but not far off. If your policy prescription starts off with, "First, we'll have to change the way the vast majority of human brains work...", you're probably drifting into utopian fantasy.

But yes, welfare states are certainly not impossible under certain circumstances, although I think their long term sustainability is an open question.
   1894. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: April 22, 2014 at 11:13 AM (#4691051)
Mentioned the Jay Gould quote before: "I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half."

Go to the comments section of any article linked on the Drudge Report, and the truth of Gould's statement will become apparent.
   1895. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: April 22, 2014 at 11:14 AM (#4691052)
Like TGF alludes to, the biggest thing we can learn is to be ethnically homogeneous. Support for the welfare state is limited when middle/upper class people think the money is going to "those people." That one political party panders to this mindset doesn't help matters, but probably would still exist regardless.


Agreed. The natural inclination seems to be strongly against a social net that includes a population as diverse as the US. Of course, as you say, having a major party sit on top of those natural inclinations and ride them on the whip for short term political gain is also a serious complicating factor.
   1896. GregD Posted: April 22, 2014 at 11:18 AM (#4691059)
What you're describing with the term "racism" is really just another form of tribalism, and tribalism is absolutely a natural fact of life. Perhaps not quite like gravity, but not far off. If your policy prescription starts off with, "First, we'll have to change the way the vast majority of human brains work...", you're probably drifting into utopian fantasy.
But what isn't a natural fact of life is the definition of the tribe. In fact the only thing that history proves is that no tribe has ever stayed stable in its definition. Thinking that is true would be a utopian (or dystopian) fantasy. The tribe of Americans was premised upon excluding Protestant Germans then Protestant Irish then Catholics of all types then Jews then Asians, etc., all of whom have since been reconfigured as part of the tribe. The tribe American has meant something different at every point in time, and there's no inherent reason why it couldn't shrink to suddenly exclude one of those groups or expand in different ways to be coterminous with the population that is here now.

Properly understood, the persistence of tribalism is the strongest argument against the idea that racism will always persist.
   1897. BrianBrianson Posted: April 22, 2014 at 11:21 AM (#4691063)
Like TGF alludes to, the biggest thing we can learn is to be ethnically homogeneous.


Canadians are hardly more homogenous than Americans.

Les Canadiens et les Canadiennes sont tres differentes d'ils-meme, comme les Americains et les Americainnes.

It's easy enough to make the same point about Belgians, the Swiss, Brits, Germans, Spaniards, etc. America is not a wild outlier in ethnic homogenity. It's very run of the mill relative to other first world democracies. Turks might be pretty homogenous, but Switzerland runs in four official languages, and is a quilt o' religion. (And hell, everyone owns a gun!)
   1898. spike Posted: April 22, 2014 at 11:27 AM (#4691067)
   1899. The Good Face Posted: April 22, 2014 at 11:27 AM (#4691068)
But what isn't a natural fact of life is the definition of the tribe. In fact the only thing that history proves is that no tribe has ever stayed stable in its definition. Thinking that is true would be a utopian (or dystopian) fantasy. The tribe of Americans was premised upon excluding Protestant Germans then Protestant Irish then Catholics of all types then Jews then Asians, etc., all of whom have since been reconfigured as part of the tribe. The tribe American has meant something different at every point in time, and there's no inherent reason why it couldn't shrink to suddenly exclude one of those groups or expand in different ways to be coterminous with the population that is here now.

Properly understood, the persistence of tribalism is the strongest argument against the idea that racism will always persist.


Well it all depends on your timeframes. If you're willing to wait hundreds of years and able to maintain the peace while tribes merge/shift/cohere, then you *may* have a shot at creating a new, unified tribe. Also, keep in mind much of what you're intepreting as tribal merging is simply alliances of smaller tribes against those perceived as even greater outsiders. Take away the greater enemy and you'll see fragmentation and conflict re-emerge. People are vicious monkeys and this sort of in-group/out-group behavior lives deep in our monkey brains.
   1900. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 22, 2014 at 11:34 AM (#4691075)
Well it all depends on your timeframes. If you're willing to wait hundreds of years and able to maintain the peace while tribes merge/shift/cohere, then you *may* have a shot at creating a new, unified tribe.


So hey look at that, the Modern Liberal agenda. Diversity! See there is a point behind all the diversity training and shaming of racists and such. And you are overstating how long it takes and how hard it is. Look at the differences from 1950 to today. You keep training the young ones and letting the old folks die off at their own pace. Generational change.

Yes it is work and far from perfect - the US melting pot, not just a cute marketing slogan.
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